Dartmouth v. Woodwoard , 1819
Dartmouth v. Woodward, 1819
Dartmouth College v. Woodward is one of the landmark cases in the history of American jurisprudence . The issue in this case was whether legislature can impair the rights of the college provided in the contractual clause . King James III under the British Crown provided the charter to the Dartmouth College in order to educate Americans prior to the independence of America . There was always a tussle between the federalists and republicans to gain control over the resources of the college . The trustees of the college were federalists and republicans in order to gain control over the college passed various legislations to make Dartmouth College a state university which was a private funded institution . Courts in New Hampshire passed the judgment in favor of the state legislations and said there was nothing unlawful in converting a private institution into a state institution . Woodward was appointed as the new state treasurer of the college along with new trustees who inclined towards the Republicans .Woodward argued there will be mutual benefits after the new legislations passed by the New Hampshire . The College was transformed into a state university temporarily for two years . Old trustees of the college which were removed after the new legislations were passed against them reached to the Supreme Court of the United States in an appeal . Daniel Webster a graduate from the Dartmouth College and a two times secretary of the state represented college in the Supreme Court of United States on the issue whether State has the power to make laws which can change the contract between two private parties . After the American Revolution it was to be decided by the Supreme Court whether British ideals will be followed as the charter to the Dartmouth College was provided by King James III under the British Crown .
Justice Marshall decided the case in the favor of Daniel Webster who was representing College and held that , It is unconstitutional to make such laws which impair the contractual rights of the parties . Article 1 , Section 10 , Clause 1 says :-
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
Under the Contract Clause of US Constitution the states are not allowed to pass any law or legislation impairing the obligations of the contract between the private parties . The charter of the college came into force before the State of New Hampshire came into existence , the government has no right to violate the charter's decision . By this judgement the powers of the State government was limited and has no right to impair the contracts between the private parties . Justice Marshall struck down the law making Dartmouth College a State University and made it a private institution again . After the decision of the Supreme Court of United States , State Governments started establishing State Universities . This decision is believed to have protected the Business Charters and Corporate Charters from the regulation of Government as Article 1 , Section 10 of U.S. Constitution provides for the contract clause which protects the rights of the private parties to the contract .